Service

Tackling the Technician Shortage

Mike Manges
Posted on February 11, 2020

"Good help is hard to find.” Have you been muttering these words under your breath a lot lately? Maybe you’ve been shouting them from the rooftop of your stores?

The good news is, you’re not alone.

The bad news? Finding good help — especially young auto service technicians — will only get harder as demand continues to exceed supply and older techs age out of the workforce.

What are you doing to tackle the tech shortage at your dealership?

John Marshall, vice president of Grismer Tire Co., a 27-location dealership based in Dayton, Ohio, says there’s no silver bullet that will entirely solve the problem.

But that hasn’t stopped him from looking for new talent in different places — with great success.

Over the last several years, Marshall and his management team have devoted a significant amount of time to educating high school principals, teachers and students about career opportunities in automotive service.

“It started when I was having a conversation with a member of the local school board,” he says. “They were intrigued and invited us to talk with some of the high schools in the Dayton area that have automotive service programs.”

Their efforts were well-received.

Schools are now sending auto service students to work part-time at Grismer Tire stores, where they can gain real-world experience, according to Marshall.

Grismer Tire Co. works with local high schools and community colleges to recruit young service techs. That’s how Jeremiah Johnson (pictured) was introduced to the dealership.
Grismer Tire Co. works with local high schools and community colleges to recruit young service techs. That’s how Jeremiah Johnson (pictured) was introduced to the dealership.
“And in the summer, students can work quite a bit more,” he says. “Then, if they like the occupation, we have a program that will help pay for their education at a trade school. They commit to work for us for a certain amount of time and we reimburse their tuition.”

One participating school is Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, which places students in paying apprenticeships at Grismer Tire stores. (The school offers four associate degree programs in automotive technology.)

“During year one, a student might attend classes in the morning and then work every afternoon at a Grismer Tire store, Monday through Friday,” says Justin Morgan, chair of Sinclair’s auto technology school. “In year two of the program, they will work at Grismer Tire in the morning and then take classes in the afternoon. And we make sure they work alongside a mentor,” usually a more experienced tech.

This gives students the opportunity to learn new, more complex skills in a controlled, systematic way, he notes. “If students just change oil for two years, they’ll never progress.”

Many Sinclair students have graduated to full-time positions at Grismer Tire locations and are making a handsome living.

“We’ve had quite a few who started out in the program and are now master technicians,” says Marshall. “One is achieving income of over $100,000 a year.”

What’s more, the program has not seen any dropouts, he adds.

Why do auto service students make great hires? Morgan offers several reasons:

  • Drive. “When students enroll in our program, they’re seeking us out,” he says. “They’re looking for education and training. They want to be here and are investing in their own future.”
  • Trainability. “Most of the time, high school and community college auto service students haven’t acquired any bad habits. Many of them haven’t worked at other repair facilities.”
  • Non-threatening status. “They want to learn. They’re not trying to take senior-level jobs.”

What’s working for Grismer Tire can work for you, he adds.

“Reach out to your local high school automotive service instructor or community college. Get involved with their advisory committees. Participate in their career fairs. Have a presence. Show an interest.”

Grismer Tire’s Marshall is happy that his company did.

“Students couldn’t pick a better profession than automotive service,” he says. “The opportunities are unbelievable and the security of this profession is well-assured.”

Too little emphasis is placed on careers in skilled trades these days, he explains. “The idea that auto service is dirty work is just not so. It’s mentally challenging. The computers and systems on cars today are just mind-boggling.”

“A lot of bright, young people might not want to go to college for a traditional, four-year degree,” says Marshall. “Automotive service offers an incredible opportunity to make a very, very fine living. You’re not going to send your car to China to be repaired. We have a big need for auto service techs.”

Maybe it’s time to start building your own pipeline to the auto service techs of tomorrow? ■

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mike.manges@bobit.com.

Related Topics: Editorial, Grismer Tire, Mike Manges, Mike Manges Editorial, technician shortage, technicians

Mike Manges Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
Article

Dealers Report Continued Unit Sales Improvement

Our recent conversations with dealers leave us with the view that retail sell-out trends showed stability in November, with a slight drop in momentum from October. From a volume standpoint, surveyed dealers saw unit sales improve by roughly 1% to 2% compared to the prior year’s period, which was still the fourth highest observed growth rate in our tire demand index for the year.

Figure 1: Identifying the data link connector terminals. All art courtesy of © Toyota, License Agreement TMS1002.
Article

TPMS: Lexus RC F, RC 200T, RC 300 and RC 350

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in Toyota’s luxury line of Lexus vehicles is designed to provide warning when tire inflation pressure of one or more tires (including the spare tire) is low.

Today’s employees want to be enabled, engaged and energize
Article

Conflict Unavoidance

Now that you’ve established the right kind of trust with your employees, let’s look at something that you, as a leader, will — at some point — contend with when dealing with subordinates: conflict.

K&M Tire President Cheryl Gossard (left) and company CEO Ken Langhals (center) discuss business strategy during the distributor's recent meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
News

What's Next For K&M Tire?

Strategic acquisitions have been a big driver behind K&M Tire Inc.’s extraordinary growth over the past several years.

News

VAA Fights Possible Vehicle Inspection Ban

Tire dealers and auto repair shops in Virginia will no longer be able to provide vehicle inspections if state legislators approve of Governor Ralph Northam’s new budget proposal.

Left unchecked, comebacks can severely damage your bottom line. Make sure repairs are done right the first  time.
Article

The Art of the Interview

The repair wasn’t done right.” Ever hear this from a customer? About 75% of the time, this statement results in the dreaded service “comeback.” That leaves 25% of your customer base that doesn’t even give you a chance to even make things right. 

News

Maxam Introduces Mining Group Team

Maxam Tire has announced the formation of the Maxam Mining Group, a dedicated global team that is specifically focused on the open pit mining segment.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from MTD delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the tire industry and don't miss a thing!

We respect your data and privacy.
By clicking the submit button below, you are agreeing with Bobit Business Media’s Privacy Policy and this outlined level of consent.